English Grammar Step by Step
UNIT 23 - Page 2
INFINITIVES, GERUNDS AND PRESENT PARTICIPLES
Put the verbs in parentheses into the correct form.
We would like to have gone sightseeing; but it began to rain
heavily, and we had to stay in a hotel. (perfect infinitive:
have + past participle)
He shouldn’t have been driving (perfect continuous infinitive:
have + been + present participle) so quick. If he had been
driving slower, he wouldn’t have had the accident. (perfect
She must be suffering a lot at the moment. (continuous
infinitive: be + present participle)
This work must be done without delay. (passive infinitive:
be + past participle)
You could have been killed! (perfect passive infinitive:
have + been + past participle)
a They would like (go) on an excursion yesterday, but the
weather got worse, and we had to postponed it.
b This letter must (type) this minute.
c ‘When I saw Gladys and Ralph, they were kissing passionately.’
‘They can’t (kiss) passionately: they are sibs.’
d You shouldn’t (behave) that way last night; you might (expel)
from the party.
e ‘Where are your parents?’
‘They’re picking apples.’
‘What are you doing here, then? You should (help) them!’
He denied murdering her (simple gerund)/having murdered
(perfect gerund: having + past participle) her.
I detest being ordered about. (passive gerund: being +
He admitted having been taken to prison. (perfect passive
gerund: having + been + past participle)
Having finished his homework, he watched the football match
on television. (perfect present participle: having + past
Having been given instructions not to reveal anything
(perfect passive present participle: having + been +
past participle), he remained silent while (he was)
being interrogated. (passive present participle: being
+ past participle)
Having been working for that firm for over twenty years,
she decided to ask for a pay rise. (perfect continuous
present participle: having + been + present participle)
a (destroy) the enemy fleet, the admiral ordered his men to
b On (get) there, he asked to see his children.
c (sack), he applied for another job.
d After (rob) the bank, they went to Mexico.
e They mentioned (speak) to Mrs Lewis.
The grass needs watering.
The grass needs to be watered.
The hedges want cutting.
The hedges want to be cut.
Your car requires servicing.
Your car requires to be serviced.
His theories deserve to be given more consideration.
His theories deserve giving more consideration.
Except for deserve, the gerund is preferred to the passive
a The manuscript needs (revise).
b The trees want (prune).
c This dress requires (iron).
d This coat wants (let) down.
e The house needs (repair).
19 Revision exercise.
a He urged us (buy) a fax machine.
b He urged our (buy) a video recorder.
c ‘Why not (wait) for them?’
‘Because we need (be) there before noon, and it is (get) late.’
d (swim) is her favourite sport.
e A taxi driver’s job entails (spend) long hours (drive)
on the streets.
f You shouldn’t waste your time (watch) soap operas on television.
g This skirt needs (take) up. It’s too long.
h They persuade her into (burgle) the house.
i They explain to me how (change) a wheel.
j She took the trouble (accompany) me to the police station.
k Monica is a great one for (write) poems.
l Guy Fawkes failed in his attempt (blow) up the Houses
m ‘I think we’ll have (redraw) the plan.’
‘Then we have no time (lose).’
‘Stop (talk) and let’s (get) on with it!’
n It’s sheer torture (get) out of bed at five in the morning.
o In (analise) the situation, he found out that they had been
p This jacket is too tight. It wants (let) out.
q He’s a real slowcoach at (paint).
r They failed (rescue) her from her kidnappers.
s We spent our lives (work) in a seedy bar.
t If he hadn’t given up (drink), his wife would have left him.
u (realise) the dangers of the jungle, they took precautions.
v We regret (leave) our old job.
w We assumed her (be) a doctor.
x I find it vital (contact) our suppliers right now.
y We need a (fry) pan.
z I heard them (say) a moment ago that old Jim Jones pegged out
This brandy is for making pastries.
A chair is a piece of furniture for sitting on.
I sent the film off for developing/I sent the film off
to be developed.
He got a gold medal for winning/having won the 400 metres
hurdles/He got a gold medal because he won/had won the
400 metres hurdles.
For can express the function of something. It can also
be equivalent to an ‘as-clause’ or a ‘because-clause’.
Compare this section with section 11. See also unit 27,
a This saw is for (cut) wood.
b I failed for (cheat).
c This parcel is for (deliver).
d This letter is (be) delivered.
e This box is for (put) things in.
Swimming is very good for the human body.
It’s very good for the human body to swim.
It would be better for you to stay here.
Formerly, it was common for an infinitive to be the subject
of a sentence. This is not very usual nowadays. Instead,
we use a gerund or an introductory ‘it’ plus an infinitive.
All the same, the gerund is not possible when referring to
a specific action, as in the last example above. Note also:
It is vital to read.
Reading is vital.
It is vital reading
a It would be a good thing (keep) watch for possible dangers.
b (have) a lot of children these days is becoming a real problem.
c It’s not very advisable (take) more than two pills at a time.
d (drive) very fast can cause a fatal accident.
e (smoke) can be very harmful to your health.
It’s useless to try/trying to convince her. She won’t go.
It’s pointless to try/trying to convince her. She will always
do it her own way.
She stayed for only ten minutes. It was not worth her while
coming to see us/to come and/to see us.
It would be worth while/worth-while/worthwhile (your/you)
coming to see us/(for you) to come and/to see us.
I took the opportunity of riding/to ride a horse when I visited
When I was there, I had a lot of opportunities/I didn’t have
much opportunity of meeting/for meeting people/to meet people.
You won’t have another chance to talk/of talking to him. (You
will not have another opportunity.)
We don’t have much chance to watch the telly. (We do not have
much opportunity (or time) to watch the telly; We don’t have
much chance of watching the telly is just possible, but the
infinitive construction is much better.)
You don’t have much chance of getting another week off. There’s
a lot of work at the office, and you have had a month off
already. (This is not very likely.)
I broke my neck finishing/to finish this report for today,
and now you say you don’t need it.
It’s been a pleasure meeting you/to meet you.
It’s so good to talk/talking to you after such a long time.
I can’t bear/stand/endure to see/seeing people ill-treating
I intend/propose/purpose to climb/climbing the Alps next summer.
It began/started to snow/snowing.
As seen above, after some verbs or expressions, it does not
usually matter whether we use an infinitive or a gerund.
a ‘Mr Johnson, this is my wife.’
‘Nice (meet) you.’
b She began (get) off the point.
c The government intends (abolish) capital punishment.
d He can’t endure (see) a woman weeping.
e Although it started (rain) cats and dogs, they continued
(walk) in the wood.
She likes cooking. (= She enjoys cooking.)
She likes to go to her gynaecologist once a year. (= She
thinks it is good for her to go.)
She would like to go out tonight.
He prefers studying/to study at night.
He would prefer not to go to his wedding.
I hate to tell you this, but I have to.
I hate taking/to take exams.
I’d hate not to be invited to your birthday party.
They love humming/to hum Frank Sinatra’s songs.
She’d love to see that film.
Like is normally followed by a gerund when it means ‘enjoy’.
After hate, love and prefer, we can have either a gerund or
an infinitive, but the gerund is more usual in British English.
When we use ‘would’ or when we refer to a particular occasion,
only the infinitive is possible.
a ‘Would you like (come) to the opera with me tonight.’
‘Oh, I’d love to, but I can’t.’
b I like (take) one of these tablets every day. They make me feel
c She loves (take) care of children. She likes them a lot.
d I hate (disturb) you now, but I have something important to tell
e ‘If you want, I can go with you.’
‘No, thanks. I prefer (go) alone.’
I remember going for long walks along the shore when I was
young. (Remember + a gerund refers to an action that occurred
Remember to phone him this afternoon. (= Do not forget to phone
him this afternoon; that is, a later action.)
I’ll never forget visiting that man. (= I’ll always remember
visiting that man.)
I forgot to tell him. (= I did not remember to tell him.)
I regret getting drunk last night. Now I feel awful.
I regret to inform you that your wife has passed over.
a Sorry, but I forgot (give) them a ring. I’ll call them
b I regret (say) that you’ve failed in maths.
c We will always remember (spend) two days in that place,
since we had a great time there.
d Please don’t forget (feed) the dog.
e I must remember (buy) her some flowers.
25 Revision exercise.
a They burst into the house by (break) the door down.
b These trousers are very long. They need (turn) up.
c I like (go) to bed early because I like (get) up early.
d He denied (stir) things up.
e It’s beginning (spot) with rain.
f She recollets (meet) her late husband with sadness.
g This axe is for (chop) wood.
h They like (eat) a bit of everything.
i I can’t stand (eat) raw meat.
j He can’t bear people (interrupt) him when he’s busy.
k (play) away makes it more difficult to win.
l It’s more difficult for a team (win) when (play) away. It’s
much better (play) at home.
m I’d love (have) telepathy so that I would be able (know)
other people’s thoughts.
n Don’t forget (put) off the lights when you leave.
o Ladies and gentlemen, we regret (announce) that Barcelona
and Liverpool will not (be) playing today, owing to a
power failure at Nou Camp. This football match will
(take) place tomorrow evening, and will (be) televised
by this TV channel then. We apologise for any inconvenience
that this may (have) caused you, and hope (be) able (offer)
it to you tomorrow evening.
p He regrets (run) away from home that day, since his mother’s
weak heart couldn’t (resist) it.
q (convince) his parents (let) him (go) to the concert, he
changed into his best clothes.
r I’m sick and tired of (be) ordered around.
s She dreads (have) to tell her parents that we have got
t I can’t imagine my husband (wear) those outlandish clothes.
u I don’t fancy (watch) the telly this evening. Why don’t we
go to town and dance?
v ‘What do you like (do) in your leisure time?’
‘I like (read) and (watch) the telly.’
w They pretended (study); but, actually, they were reading comics.
x I saw her (cheat) on you last night.
y They advised my (invest) in government bonds.
z Why (worry) about them? They never worry about us.
He has tried to deceive me several times. (= He has made
several attempts to deceive me.)
Why don’t you try adding some sugar? (= Why don’t you add
some sugar? It may taste better.)
I didn’t mean to hurt you. (= I didn’t have the intention
of hurting you.)
This will mean increasing our prices. (= This will entail
increasing our prices.)
She proposed (our) having another drink. [= She suggested
(our) having another drink.]
She proposes to dismiss/dismissing him as soon as she finds
another person to take his place. (= Her intention is to
dismiss him as soon as she finds another person to take his
We understood him to say the meeting was off. (We thought
he said the meeting was off.)
Am I to understand that you are not going to lend me the
money? (= Do you mean that you are not going to lend me
I can’t understand people’s killing animals for pleasure.
(= I don’t see any reason why people should kill animals
They chanced to be at the conference when we went there.
(= We did not expect to find them there.)
They chanced going there without any weapons. (= They ran
a I didn’t mean (frighten) you. I just wanted to be frank with
b He proposed our (dismiss) everybody, and (employ) cheap labour.
c I can’t understand her (leave) him. I thought she was deeply
in love with him.
d I understood him (mean) that he would help us.
e ‘Are you trying (take) me in?’
‘Of course not!’
She stopped (at the petrol station) to refuel. (She stopped
in order to refuel.)
She stopped reading. (She ceased reading.)
She went on to explain that unemployment has decreased during
this term. (She introduced a new topic or aspect into her
She went on explaining that unemployment has decreased during
this term. (She continued talking about the same topic or
I’m sorry for crashing/for having crashed/to have crashed your
car into a wall last night. (Please accept my apologies for
what I did last night. Notice that this refers to something
I’m sorry to burst in on you like this, but I have something
very important to tell you. (Note that ‘sorry’ + a full
infinitive relates to something that you are doing or are
going to do.)
I’m sorry to hear of your daughter’s sudden death. (I
sympathise with you in your loss.)
You should be ashamed of yourself for stealing/having
stolen my wallet/You should be ashamed of stealing/having
stolen my wallet. (It is shameful that you should have
done such a thing.)
I’m ashamed to tell you that I stole your wallet yesterday.
(It is very embarrasing/difficult for me to tell you that
I stole your wallet yesterday.)
The streets were so lonely that I was afraid to go/of
going out alone. (I did not want to go out alone because
I think that it was very risky, since somebody could
The streets were so lonely that I was afraid of being
assailed/I was afraid that I might be assailed. (This
structure refers to things that we cannot control
or do not depend on us.)
I’m interested in seeing that monument again. (I would
like to do this.)
I’m interested to see the latest reports on the murder.
(I would like to know more details about it.)
a I’m afraid (tell) my wife that I gambled all our money away last
b I didn’t speed up because I was afraid (have) an accident.
c They stopped (see) each other on account of a little
misunderstanding. She’s so touchy and resentful that she has
lost most of her friends.
d ‘I’m very hungry.’
‘Then, we’ll stop (eat) something.’
e I’m sorry (arrive) home so late last night, but I had a
very important business meal.
I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.
When to is a preposition, it must be followed by a gerund.
After a preposition, we can only use a gerund, a noun or a
pronoun. So, we could also have said I am looking forward
to my summer holidays.
a She took to (drink) heavily when her daughter popped off.
b They agreed to her (smoke) at home.
c He came near to (hit) me.
d They confess to (have) robbed the bank.
e In addition to (increase) production, we need to lower our
To speak frankly, I don’t think you deserved to win that
award. (If you want me to speak frankly, I do not think
you deserved to win that award.)
A to-infinitive can have a conditional meaning.
a (be) honest with you, you don’t have any chance of getting
b (tell) you the truth, I don’t really know anything about
c (be) perfectly frank with you, your essay wasn’t worth the
paper it was written on.
d (be) accurate, we’ve lost ten pounds fifty-two.
e (put) it another way, we’re ruined.
30 Revision exercise.
a I recall (play) in this garden with my sister.
b We’d love (go) (hike) with you.
c We love (go) (ramble).
d I regret (tell) you that they have turned down your application.
e We regret (move) from the village to a big city. We can’t get
used to (live) in a big city.
f This suit is too wide. It wants (take) in.
g (pollute) the earth means (destroy) it.
h They intend (cut) their labour force by half. I hope they don’t.
i (put) it bluntly, I don’t love you. I married for money.
j ‘We had difficulty in (find) a new job. You know, this is a
small town and our last employer spoke ill of us.’
‘Well, If I were you, I would (go) and (tell) him a few
‘I reckon it would only (make) things worse.’
k ‘He’s finished.’
‘Don’t be so sure. A (drown) man will (clutch) at a straw.’
l ‘They’re doing their utmost (eradicate) nuclear power
stations around the globe.’
‘Well, I believe they’re fighting a (lose) battle.’
m You didn’t behave properly, (put) it mildly.
n You’ll (like) her. She’s given to (wander) around. The same as
o Try (polish) your car with this product. It’ll probably
p I suppose it’d (be) well worth while your (read) Animal Farm
by Orwell. You’ll (learn) a lot from it.
q I was sorry (learn) that your brother had had a terrible
r ‘You should (be) ashamed of yourself (get) pregnant.’
‘I’m not. I’ve longed (have) a baby for such a long time
that I feel delighted (have) a (live) being in my insides.’
‘But you’re not married!’
‘I don’t care a damn about it!’
s We didn’t like (bother) him. (So we didn’t.)
t We didn’t like (bother) him, as he was exhausted, but we
had something important (tell) him.
u Am I (understand) that I’m fired for (try) (rob) the company.
This is ridiculous! I didn’t do such a thing!
v If you like, I can (teach) you how (mend) it.
w ‘I miss (chat) to her. I enjoy myself (chat) to her.’
‘She says that she had a great time (talk) to you, as well.’
x I’m not the only person (blame) for what happened. They tempted
me into (do) it.
y I never (go) (climb). I’m afraid (fall).
z He introduced himself to the audience and then went on (say)
that he was going (build) a new hospital in the
Continuous passive infinitives have not been included here
because they are unusual.
In this particular case, we could also have said We would
have liked to go sightseeing or We would have liked to
have gone sightseeing. This is also possible with the verbs
hate, love and prefer.
Perfect infinitives refer to the past. See unit 22, section
17, footnote 21.
The perfect gerund after verbs which are already in a past
form is not usually necessary, unless there is ambiguity
if we do not use it:
He admitted having wished to marry her. (= He admitted he
had wished to marry her. When he admitted this, he
probably did not want to marry her any longer.)
He admitted wishing to marry her. (= He admitted he
wished to marry her. He still wanted to marry her
when he admitted this.)
This may also be applied to present participles:
Phoning her, he remembered that he had to ring his parents
up. (While he was phoning her, he remembered that he had
to ring his parents up.)
Having phoned her, he remembered that he had to ring his
parents up. (Once he had phoned her, he remembered that
he had to ring his parents up, that is to say, first he
phoned her and then he remembered that he had to ring
his parents up.)
Having seen her/Seeing her, he went to say hello to her.
(Ambiguity cannot arise here, so both forms are possible.)
There are a lot of windows to clean/to be cleaned.
There isn’t anything to do here. (We had better go
There isn’t anything to be done. (We cannot do
anything about it.)
Use the plain infinitive.
The following constructions are possible in modern English,
but not very common:
For the human body to swim is very good. (very formal)
For you to stay here would be better. (very formal)
Note the following: It’s worth reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte
See section 26, footnote 52 in this unit.
Observe as well:
‘This is Mr Gibbs and this is Miss Lee.’
‘(It’s) nice to meet you, Miss Lee.’
‘(It’s) nice to meet you too, Mr Gibbs.’
Well, I have to go now. (It’s been) nice meeting
you./(It’s) nice to have met you.
‘Mr Fowler, I’d like to introduce you to Mrs Scott.’
‘(I’m) pleased to meet you.’
‘(I’m) pleased to meet you, too.’
Notice as well:
What you have just done doesn’t bear thinking about.
(You have just done such a terrible thing that it is
better not to think about it.)
Note the following:
I can’t bear/stand people ill-treating animals.
(Rather than I can’t stand people’s ill-treating
See section 26, footnote 52.
After begin and start, both the infinitive and the gerund
are possible. The infinitive being more usual for actions
that cannot be controlled by us or are short; the gerund,
for long voluntary actions. In the following cases,
however, they take the infinitive:
It’s beginning/starting to clear up. (a continuous tense)
She began/started to see things more clearly after I
explain the whole affair to her. (‘See’ is a verb not
used in continuous tenses. See unit 9, sections 5 and 6.)
When begin and start are preceded by ‘to’, we use a gerund
I’d like to begin/start taking German lessons next month.
Cease and continue behave similarly:
It ceased snowing/to snow.
He continued dancing/to dance.
Especially in the negative.
Or I regret having got drunk last night.
Mainly before verbs of saying, such as ‘announce’, ‘inform’,
Apart from the expression ‘I dread to think’, dread is
usually followed by a gerund:
I dread to think what might happen if a nuclear war
I dread having to die.
It is sometimes possible to use a personal object pronoun in
place of a genitive or a possessive adjective before a gerund.
This usage is quite common in informal English, and is sometimes
I don’t like his/him telling lies.
I didn’t mind your/you interfering.
I remember your/you getting ill.
I remember you looking after me when I was little. (Rather
than I remember your looking after me when I was little.)
I didn’t like my car being left unlocked. (‘My car’ is
an inanimate object. Do not say “my car’s”.)
The infinitive is more usual than the gerund.
The infinitive is not possible here. In the example above,
we cannot say The streets were so lonely that I was afraid
that I might go out alone, unless we wish to imply that we
lack willpower, in which case the infinitive would not be
Another instance: He was so angry with me that I was afraid to
talk/of talking to him. The following sentence is not logical:
He was so angry with me that I was afraid that I might talk to
him. Therefore, we can make a golden rule: When we can use a
that-structure, the construction of + a gerund is necessary:
I didn’t tell my parents the truth because I was afraid of
I didn’t tell my parents the truth because I was afraid
that I might be scolded.
Compare these sentences:
My father agreed to lend me some money. (My father said
that he would lend me some money.)
My father agreed to my arriving home last night. (My
father allowed me to arrive home late last night.)
In can be removed.
Author: Miquel Molina i Diez
Pages: 1, 2, and the key
1 Negative and interrogative sentences (Page 2 and the key)
2 Short answers (Page 2 and the key)
3 Question tags (Page 2 and the key)
4 Questions and exclamations (Page 2 and the key)
5 So, neither, nor, either (the key)
6 Be, used to, would, be/get/become used to, dare, have, get, become, grow, go, turn, fall and feel (Page 2 and the key)
7 Verb tenses: forms (Page 2 and the key)
8 Irregular verbs
9 Verb tenses: uses (Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5 and the key)
10 Personal pronouns, possessives and reflexive pronouns (Page 2 and the key)
11 The genitive case (the key)
12 Singular and plural nouns (Page 2 and the key)
13 Gender (the key)
14 A, an, some, any, no, not, none, each, every and the; compounds of some, any, no and every (Page 2, Page 3 and the key)
15 Neither, not...either, none, not...any, both and all (the key)
16 A few, few, a lot, lots, a little, little, many, much, no and plenty (the key)
17 Enough, too, so and such (the key)
18 Comparative and superlative sentences (Page 2 and the key)
19 Adjective order (the key)
20 Relative clauses (Page 2 and the key)
21 Do and make (the key)
22 Modal verbs (Page 2, Page 3 and the key)
23 Infinitives, gerunds and present participles (Page 2 and the key)
24 Conditional sentences (Page 2 and the key)
25 Passive sentences (the key)
26 Reported speech (Page 2 and the key)
27 Purpose (the key)
28 Word order (the key)
29 Inversion (the key)
30 Connectors (Page 2 and the key)
31 Prepositions (Page 2, Page 3 and the key)
32 Phrasal verbs (the key)